How I Met My Dinner Fourth of July: World Wieners & Rocket Pops

Jul 2, 2016 | 2016 Articles, Alicia Lieu, How I Met My Dinner

by Alicia Lieu

What could be more American than hot dogs and popsicles that are layered red, white, and blue? When I was a kid, I opted for the Rocket Pop every chance I could because of the white layer that was tangy and sweet at the same time. I was well into adulthood before I found out that layer was lemon flavored. Lea Leong Ringler comes through again with an easily assembled, healthy, and delicious popsicle.



The World of Wieners requires a bit of back story. I recently received a Facebook friend request from a name I didn’t recognize, at least at first, but when I looked into the profile, I thought it might be my best friend from elementary and middle school, Kristin, who I had lost touch with over the years. I forgot that she had gotten married and acquired the last name Wiener. Little did we know that even though we grew up in California together, we had both been on the East Coast for 10 years. We reunited in Maryland and bonded over opera. We attended the entire Ring Cycle (Yes, all 18 hours of it) at Washington National Opera. In between the five hour operas, we were treated to incredible home cooked meals, courtesy of Tim, her husband, and her mother Joan.

After a week of being treated to meats that were smoked for 12 hours or cooked via the sous vide method, coconut pie, apple Dutch baby, Vinegret, crispy baked masala plantain leaves, homemade pear butter with spice berry, homemade dill pickles, and coleslaw, I began to think that marriage might come with some perks that would actually make it palatable for me. Now if I could only get the recipe for her mother’s strawberry pie…and find a husband to make it for me!

As for the wieners, I asked Tim to compile his best wiener recipes for the Fourth of July column because hot dogs are all-American even though the origin of it may be European. I mean, what other nation can take a hot dog and turn it into a national eating sport? I witnessed the Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest a few years back when Joey Chestnut was crowned champion on a hot and muggy Independence Day. Tim tested his recipes a couple months earlier for Memorial Day, and I do believe they were all winners. These recipes also happen to reflect some of the diversity of America, since it is a nation of immigrants. In the words of Lee Greenwood, “I’m proud to be an American.”

World of Wieners Memorial Day Weekend 2016 Blowout Extravaganza!
By Timothy Wiener

1) Korean Dog: Kimchi and Apple/Potato salad

2) Thai Dog: Larb Nuea (ground beef salad)

3) Ethiopian Dog: Berbere spiced caramelized onions and hard boiled eggs

4) Russian Dog: Vinegret (vegetable salad)

5) Steakhouse Dog: caramelized onions and blue cheese

6) Andean Dog: Quinoa Salad and pickled onions

7) Bonus: Taco dog: cucumber pico de gallo and pickled onions

The Hot Dogs

Place hot dogs in a pan that will hold them in a single layer. Add your favorite beer (the darker the better) and 2 tablespoons of mustard (or to taste) until liquid is a little more than halfway up the sides of the hot dogs. Place on medium high heat until simmering then turn heat down to maintain the simmer. Turn hot dogs occasionally to coat. Remove from heat when the beer/mustard has reduced and becomes a sticky glaze. Dogs are now cooked and ready to use, but can be thrown on a hot grill if desired.

Korean Dog Sauerkraut is a common hot dog topping. Here, another fermented cabbage dish, kimchi, is used along with a creamy potato salad to help tame some of the heat.


Korean Dog

Place hot dog in a bun and top with your favorite homemade or store-bought kimchi and some Korean apple/potato salad.

Apple potato salad:
Yields about 6 servings
Based on recipe by kimchimom

2 lbs red potatoes, washed and cut into 1-inch cubes 3 tbsp rice vinegar 1/2 cup sour cream 1/2 cup greek yogurt 1 tbsp horseradish sauce 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion 1 teaspoon celery seed 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1 cup shredded carrots 2 Fuji apples, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1. In a large pot, add potatoes and enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium-high and let cook for about 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. A good way to test for doneness is if a paring knife can be slipped into and out of one of the potato chunks with little resistance.

2. Drain potatoes in a colander. Add into a large bowl. Add vinegar and toss mix. Set aside to allow the potatoes to absorb some of the vinegar.

3. In a small bowl, mix together sour cream, yogurt, horseradish sauce, (or use 1 cup mayonnaise instead), red onion, celery seed, salt, and black pepper, carrots, and apples.

4. Add red onion, carrots, and apples to potatoes and mix.

5. Add dressing mixture to the potatoes and mix together until potatoes are fully coated.

Thai Dog Larb is a classic thai minced meat salad that is very flavorful. Generally, small amounts are wrapped in lettuce leaves like spring rolls. Here, it is used as a hot dog topping in place of another meat-based topping, chili.

Place hot dog in a bun and top with Larb Nuea.

Larb Nuea:
1 lb. ground beef 4 tbsp minced fresh cilantro stems 1 tbsp minced ginger 1 tbsp minced lemongrass 1 tbsp sambal oolek or thai chile/garlic paste 1 tablespoon roasted rice powder (available in Asian markets or you can make your own by roasting raw rice in a dry skillet till brown and grind in spice grinder) 3 tbsp lime juice 3 tbsp fish sauce 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (1/4 oz packet) 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves 1/4 cup chopped spring onions (about 2 onions) 1/2 cup quick pickled grated cucumbers, optional (see below for recipe) 1/2 cup quick pickled grated carrots, optional (see below for recipe) 1/2 cup quick pickled grated daikon radish, optional (see below for recipe)
1. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef. After it is browned, if it is excessively greasy, drain beef in colander and then return to skillet.

2. Add cilantro stems, ginger, lemongrass chile paste, and rice powder to beef and mix. Heat until fragrant then remove beef to large bowl.

3. Add lime juice and fish sauce to beef, stir and let cool.

4. Add mint, cilantro leaves, and onions and stir.

5. Add pickled cucumber, carrots, and radish, if using and stir to combine.

Replace beef with chicken for Larb Gai or with pork for Larb Mu, or use any ground meat, tofu, or lentils. May also use some chopped basil with the other herbs in step 4.

Quick pickled vegetables:
For each vegetable, grate, julienne, or cut into fine dice or matchsticks enough to make about 1 cup (quarter and deseed cucumber first). Toss with 1/2 tsp salt and 2-3 tbsp rice wine vinegar. Let stand for 30-60 minutes. Squeeze out excess liquid before adding to larb.

Ethiopian Dog Based on the classic Ethiopian chicken stew, Doro Wat, with berbere spice mix, caramelized onions and hard boiled eggs. Berbere can be found online or you can make your own. This can be quite spicy, so adjust to your taste.


Ethiopian Dog

Place hot dog in a bun and top with berbere spiced caramelized onions and slices of hard boiled eggs.

Caramelized onions: (makes about 1-1/2 cups)
2 lbs sliced onions 2 tbsp butter
1. In large pot, melt butter over medium high heat. Add onions and stir to coat. Cover and let steam until starting to wilt.

2. Remove cover, stir well, reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally until very soft and brown, approximately 60-90 minutes. Do not let burn. If onions start to scorch, stir well, and reduce heat a little more.

3. Remove onions from pot and serve as is or season with 1 tbsp Berbere spice mix (or to taste).

Berbere spice mix:

2 tbsp paprika 2 tbsp cayenne 2 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp ground turmeric 1 tsp ground ginger 1 tsp ground coriander 1 tsp ground nutmeg 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1. Place all spices in a jar with lid and shake vigorously. For less heat, use 1 tbsp cayenne and 3 tbsp paprika, for more heat use 3 tbsp cayenne and 1 tbsp paprika.

Russian Dog Salads and salsas are an easy way to bring international flair to a simple hot dog. Here, a Soviet era cold chopped vegetable salad is used.


Russian Dog

Place hot dog in a bun and top with Vinegret.

Vinegret: (Russian cold vegetable salad)
Based on recipe from (

2 cups beets, diced and cooked 2 cups potatoes, diced and cooked 2 cups carrots, diced and cooked 2 cups dill pickles, diced 1 cup peas 1 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts 1/4 cup fresh dill or heaping tbsp dried dill weed 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 1 tsp Dijon mustard 1 tsp sugar 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp pepper 1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. In a large non-reactive bowl, mix together the beets, potatoes, carrots, peas, pickles, scallions, and dill.

2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk the oil slowly into the vinegar mix to lightly emulsify it.

3. Stir the vinaigrette into the vegetables, adjust seasoning, and serve well chilled.

4. Pro Tip: first dice the potatoes, place in a pot of salted water, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10-15 minutes or until just tender. Drain, reserving the salted water. Return water to the pot. Meanwhile dice the carrots, while the potatoes cool, add carrots to reserved water and simmer until just tender, 5-10 minutes, drain, reserving water. Place beets in water, whole if small, quartered if large, and simmer until tender 15-20 minutes. Drain and let cool. When beets are cool enough to handle, slip off skins, and dice.

Steakhouse Dog. This version is a riff on typical North American steakhouse fare.


Steakhouse Dog

Place hot dog in a bun and top with seasoned caramelized onions and crumbled blue cheese. Chopped mushrooms, sautéed in butter, can also be added.

Caramelized onions: (makes about 1-1/2 cups)
2 lbs sliced onions 2 tbsp butter
1. In large pot, melt butter over medium high heat. Add onions and stir to coat. Cover and let steam until starting to wilt.

2. Remove cover, stir well, reduce heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally until very soft and brown, approximately 60-90 minutes. Do not let burn. If onions start to scorch, stir well, and reduce heat a little more.

3. Remove onions from pot and serve as is or season with 1 tbsp Montreal Steak spice mix (or to taste; be careful, store bought versions are very salty).

Montreal Steak spice mix: (salt-free)
1 tbsp cracked black pepper 1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes 1 tbsp dehydrated onion flakes 1 tbsp dehydrated garlic flakes 1 tbsp coarse ground coriander 1 tbsp dill weed or coarse ground dill seed 1/2 tbsp cracked or coarse ground mustard seeds (optional) 1/2 tbsp rosemary, dried (optional) 1/2 tbsp thyme, dried (optional) 1/2 tbsp cracked or course ground cumin (optional)
This makes for a very coarse seasoning mix, which looks pretty on a steak, chop, chicken, or fish, but can be hard to source all the ingredients. Alternatively, use fine ground versions of all the spices. This is a salt free version so when applying to food add salt separately to taste, kosher salt for the coarse version, table salt fir the fine ground version. To make a smaller amount of spice mix, substitute tsp for tbsp (makes 1/3 less spice mix).

Andean Dog. This version uses a salad that features many foods that are typical of the Andes.


Andean Dog

Place hot dog in a bun and top with Andean salad and pickled onions. May also add thin slices of avocado.

Andean Salad:
3 cups cooked quinoa 1 cup cooked corn kernels 1 cup cooked baby lima beans 1 cup petite diced tomatoes (about 1 can drained, or use garden/market fresh tomatoes,
seeded) 1 cup cucumber (about 1), seeded and cut about the size of a corn kernel) 1/2 cup sliced spring onion/scallions, white and green parts 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (about 1 bunch) 1/2 cup vegetable oil 1/4 cup lime juice 1/2 tsp salt

1. Place first seven ingredients into large bowl and mix.

2. Place oil, lime juice, and salt into jar and shake vigorously. Fold into salad.

Pickled onions
1 jalapeño pepper, cut into rings or diced 2 large red onions, finely sliced, about 4 cups 1 cup distilled white vinegar 1 cup water 2 tbsp salt
1. Place jalapeño and onions in a medium mixing bowl.

2. Heat vinegar, water, and salt in a small pot over high heat, whisking until salt is dissolved. Bring to a boil, then pour over onions.

3. Allow to sit until onions are softened and liquid has cooled, about 25 minutes.

4. Onions will keep indefinitely in a sealed container in the refrigerator. For a sweeter onion, reduce salt to 1 tsp and add 1 cup of sugar in step 2.

Sinaloan Mexican Dog. This version was inspired by a whole grilled fish taco, after which I had prodigious amounts of leftover cucumber pico de gallo.

Place hot dog in a bun and top with cucumber pico de gallo and pickled onions.

Cucumber pico de gallo:
1-1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch dice (about 3 cups) 1 small cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch dice (about 1-1/2 cups) Salt
1/2 large white onion, finely diced (about 3/4 cup)
1 to 2 Serrano or jalapeño chilies, finely diced (seeds and membranes removed for a
milder salsa) 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves 1 tablespoon lime juice from 1 lime
1. Season tomatoes and cucumbers with 1 teaspoon salt and toss to combine. Transfer to a fine mesh strainer or colander set in a bowl and allow to drain for 20 to 30 minutes. Discard liquid.

2. Combine drained tomatoes with onion, chilies, cilantro, and lime juice. Toss to combine and season to taste with salt. Pico de gallo can be stored for up to 3 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

And the POP…
Recipe by Lea Leong Ringler



Nothing says summer like popsicles. Nothing says Independence Day more that red, white, and blue food! Kids at the pool with red-stained lips or blue tongues…it’s classic, right? Well, I’ve been looking for some healthy options for homemade popsicles that actually taste good, and this is the first one that is child-approved. It’s festive and not too difficult to assemble.

Star-Spangled Berry and Yogurt Ice Pops
1 cup Greek Vanilla Yogurt
1/4 cup milk
1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
4-6 tbsp agave nectar or honey
Popsicle molds
Aluminum foil

1. Prepare raspberries by blending them into a purée. Use a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds.

2. Add agave or honey to taste, but lean on the sweeter side – 2 to 3 tablespoons.

3. Store in refrigerator in a measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring.

4. Prepare the blueberries in the same way as the raspberries, straining to remove skin and seeds.

5. For the yogurt mixture, simply mix yogurt with milk until it reaches a pourable consistency. Store in fridge in cup with spout until ready to use.

6. Fill each mold with blueberry purée about 1 inch of the mold. Freeze for about 1 hour. Prepare the next layer by placing the popsicle stick in the mold. Add about 1/2 inch of yogurt mixture and then secure the sticks by placing aluminum foil over the sticks, making a small hole for each stick. Freeze for another hour. Carefully remove foil and continue layering and freezing with the raspberry purée, alternating with the yogurt until you’ve reached the top of the mold, freezing in between each layer.


Check out Alicia’s past columns in our Food section. You can follow Alicia on Twitter @AliciaJLieu.

Alicia Lieu grew up in Cupertino, California. She has Master’s Degree in Music Composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Bachelor of Art from UC Santa Barbara. A New Yorker with the heart of a Californian, she currently resides in Queens, NY and blogs about food in Life is Delicious.

1 Comment

  1. Wow, cool idea! Very unique and festive. Thanks for sharing this!


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